Summer Camp Memoir: Steven Howard

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This past summer was my 8th summer working at The Woods. I often get asked by friends and family, "Why do you always go back to camp? Why don't you get a real job?" My first thought is usually, "Where else is it acceptable for me to run around the woods dressed up like a pirate?" While that is a great reason to work at camp, it is not my actual response to that question. The real reason I keep coming back each summer is because of the community that thrives within that forest. The intentional community creates a unique type of environment during the summers that provides a very special experience for all who are a part of it. There is something special that the summer staffers and campers bring to The Woods that allows such a community to grow and flourish. Much like the redwoods that surround us, we share a willingness to create relationships that go deeper, our roots and stories intertwining into a solid foundation that creates a support system rarely seen in the outside world.

That very support system has helped me through many of the ups and downs in life and has always been there to support me through everything. This has led me to experience a tremendous amount of growth in both my personal life as well as my spiritual life. My faith started many years ago standing in the middle of the labyrinth one summer evening as a high school camper and has been growing and nurtured over the years largely due to this community. Many of the people I have met throughout my years at The Woods have become more than my closest friends: they have become my family. With every passing summer new friendships take root and sprout while the older ones continue to grow stronger and mature. The Woods has been such influential part of my life; the experiences I have had and the people I have met over the years have helped shape me into the person I am today. Many of the most important decisions of my life, such as what college I decided to attend and the career path that I am on, have been largely influenced by the summer community. If it wasn’t for this community I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am today.  The impact that it has had on my life is immense.

Because of the tremendous amount of love and support I personally have received from this community, I feel that it is only natural to want to reflect that same love and support to others. I want to help nurture and provide a solid foundation for them grow so that they can have the best camp experience we can offer. The Woods is a "sanctuary for transformative experiences," and one of my goals in the summer is to help ensure that all who cross that bridge know that. The Woods isn’t just a place in the middle of the redwoods to me; it is a home. Within this forest people get to be who they really are and know that no matter what, they are loved and supported by the whole community.  When they leave this place they are not leaving as friends but as family. And  no matter how long it might be until they cross that bridge again, whether it be weeks, months or even years, they will always be welcomed home.

No job gets any more real than that.